If there’s one thing I’m constantly asked about, it’s the fastest, easiest way to get facial hair under control. So when the kind folks at Conair sent me their i-Stubble shaver for an advance review, I couldn’t say no. (Well, I never say no right now, but that’s another story.)
However, this required that I do something I usually don’t: let my facial hair grow out. Let’s just say that with two-to-three-days’ scruff I don’t exactly resemble Dr. McDreamy. But guys who aren’t as facially follicular-challenged as myself need to keep that scruff from turning into Grizzly Adams or the guy from Iron & Wine. Regular clippers aren’t precise enough to do the job, so if you want your stubble to remain in that “sweet spot” you’ll need something more specialized.
But the i-Stubble is more than that, and there’s good reason for even a clean-shaven guy like me to keep it on the bathroom shelf.
20-Grit or 30?
The i-Stubble (branded as the BaByLiss i-Stubble overseas) looks at first glance like a normal electric trimmer, with a plastic blade guard and sharp metal cutting blades. The magic of this device is the precision cutting guide: it’s adjustable in 0.2 millimeter increments, from 0.4 mm all the way up to 5.0 mm. Just press the up or down buttons and a little motor moves the guide into position. When the digital readout shows you the length you’re looking for, you’re ready to groom.
With normal clippers, the angle can be tricky: held perpendicular to your face, you might get a much shorter cut than at a 30-degree angle. With the i-Stubble, you hold the guide flat against your face, no guesswork involved. The instruction sheet recommends shaving upwards (against the grain), and I found that to be the best way to cut. For the neck and chin, I also found it necessary to go over the area another time or two in a different direction—the instruction sheet recommends that as well.
With one exception (I’ll get to that in a minute), the i-Stubble gave me a wonderful, even trim. If I were to “wear” stubble every day, this would be a godsend.
But Wait, There’s More
Let’s say you’re rocking a tight beard, mustache or goatee. That 5mm setting can keep it from fuzzing out. I normally have a little soul patch these days, and I can set the i-Stubble to its longest cut length, pass over my little spot once, and I’m done with it.
And I can fold back the guide (no loose parts to go missing!) and use the blades to shape my patch, trim those hairs at the back of my neck between haircuts, and even snag the few stray hairs on my shoulders. The relatively small size of the i-Stubble blades make it easy to handle. With all the varied use, I haven’t had to recharge the device in the three weeks or so that I’ve had it.
Not Without Its Flaws
Another unique “feature” of my facial hair is that it grows right up to within about 1/8 of an inch from my nose. Attempting to trim the stubble on my upper lip became a boxing match between the i-Stubble and my nostrils. The guide has curved sides which, if they could be flattened, would allow the device to pass under the nose with minimal contact—perhaps that’s a feature for version 2.0.
Also, it would be great if the device would remember the setting it was last used at, instead of resetting the next time it’s turned on. A minor annoyance (it’s kind of fun to watch the guide move with the little motor sound) but every extra ten seconds added on to the morning ritual is an extra ten seconds earlier I have to get up, and I like my sleep.
Some men are more cut out for a daily wet shave with a safety razor. Others look great with a smattering of shadow. If you’re farming stubble, the Conair for Men i-Stubble should be your implement of choice. It’s also useful beyond its prime directive, and beyond the trendy “i-” name. If I could download apps on it, the name would be perfect.
Conair for Men iStubble [Amazon.com]